University News

Herald poll: students divided on ROTC’s return

By
Senior Staff Writer
Tuesday, March 22, 2011
This article is part of the series Spring 2011 Student Poll

Correction appended.

There is no consensus among students concerning the campus ban on the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps, according to a Herald poll conducted last week. The poll addressed a variety of issues including student approval of campus leadership and the effect of overcrowded housing.

More students approve than disapprove of lifting the ROTC ban — with 17 percent strongly approving, 26 percent somewhat approving, 14 percent somewhat disapproving and 10 percent strongly disapproving. But a third of students did not state a preference, with 20 percent indicating that they are not familiar enough to answer and 13 percent giving no opinion.

More males than females strongly approve lifting the ROTC ban — 21 percent versus 13 percent, respectively. A similar trend was seen with seniors, 23 percent of whom strongly approve compared to 15 percent of non-seniors. Compared to older students, first-years are less likely to strongly approve and more likely to state that they are not familiar enough to answer. Twelve percent of first years strongly approve, compared to 19 percent of non-first-years, and 26 percent of first-years stated they are not familiar enough to answer, versus 19 percent of older students.

Following the congressional repeal of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, universities that previously banned ROTC began to reconsider their stances. Harvard announced earlier this month that it would reinstate its ROTC program.

President Ruth Simmons established a committee last month to examine the University’s policy on ROTC.

The Herald poll was conducted March 14-16 and has a 2.8 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. A total of 972 students completed the poll, which The Herald distributed as a written questionnaire in J. Walter Wilson and the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center during the day and in the Sciences Library at night.

Simmons’ approval rate has fallen over the past year. In spring 2010, 78 percent of students stated they approved of the way Simmons was handling her job as president, while 74 percent approved last fall. Last week’s poll showed 62 percent of students approving, though the “not familiar enough to answer” and “no opinion” options were combined in previous polls as “don’t know/no answer.”

Thirty percent of students stated they strongly approve of Simmons and 32 percent stated they somewhat approve. One percent stated they strongly disapprove and 4 percent stated they somewhat disapprove. A quarter of students stated they are not familiar enough to answer, while 8 percent gave no opinion. Seniors were more likely than other students to approve.

Thirty-nine percent of students stated increasing financial aid should be the University’s highest priority. Ten percent stated the highest priority should be building new residence halls, while 15 percent stated its priority should be renovating existing campus housing. Nine percent stated it should be hiring more faculty and 8 percent stated improving food options is most important. Seven percent stated it should be improving classrooms and labs, 6 percent stated the highest priority is improving athletic facilities and 6 percent stated “other.”

A majority of students indicated that overcrowding in on-campus housing — specifically the accommodation of students in kitchens and lounges — has affected their residential experience. Eleven percent stated it has affected them very much, while 43 percent stated they have been somewhat affected. Forty-six percent stated it has not affected them. Numbers may be skewed by responses from students living off campus — 58 percent of seniors, many of whom live off campus, said they are “not at all” affected.

Almost two-thirds of students stated they use on-campus gyms at least once per week. Six percent stated they use them multiple times per day, 16 percent stated they use them once per day, 19 percent stated every two days and 23 percent stated once or twice per week. Fourteen percent of students stated they use them once or twice per month, 12 percent once or twice per semester and 11 percent stated they never use them. Construction on a new fitness and aquatics center is currently underway and should wrap up by April 2012, according to Stephen Maiorisi, vice president for facilities management.

A majority of students stated that they leave College Hill at least once per week, with 4 percent leaving College Hill at least once per day, 28 percent leaving two or three times per week and 29 percent doing so once per week. A third of students stated they leave College Hill once or twice per month, while 5 percent stated they do so once or twice per semester and 1 percent stated they never go off College Hill. First-year students indicated they leave College Hill less often than other students, while seniors indicated they do so more frequently.

Over a third of poll respondents indicated they will be continuing their classroom educations immediately after graduating, with 15 percent planning to go to medical school, 15 percent to graduate school, 4 percent to law school and 1 percent to business school. Meanwhile, about a quarter of students stated they plan to get jobs, 8 percent stated they will enter a service program such as Teach for America or the Peace Corps and 5 percent stated they have other plans. Many students — 28 percent — indicated they were unsure.

Almost two-thirds of poll respondents indicated that Brown was their first choice when applying to college, though only a third of transfer students said so. Five percent of students stated Yale was their first choice, while 3 percent said Harvard and 5 percent stated they most wanted to attend another Ivy League university. Four percent stated Stanford was their top choice, 7 percent stated their first choice was another U.S. school and 1 percent stated it was a foreign school. One in 10 poll respondents indicated they had no first choice.

Almost all students indicated they are happy with their Brown experience, with 72 percent stating they are very happy and 24 percent somewhat happy. Two percent of respondents stated they are neither happy nor unhappy, while 2 percent stated they are somewhat unhappy and 1 percent very unhappy.

Most students — 84 percent — have not considered transferring out of Brown. Twelve percent of students stated they have considered transferring somewhat seriously, while 4 percent have considered it very seriously.

Eighty-nine percent of students stated they never use prescription drugs that are not prescribed to them, such as Adderall or Ritalin, to help with schoolwork. Two percent stated they do so once per year, 5 percent stated once or twice a semester, 2 percent stated once or twice a month and 1 percent stated more than once a week.

Many students indicated they are unfamiliar with the Corporation — 43 percent stated they were not familiar enough to approve or disapprove of its governance. Sixteen percent of students gave no opinion. Six percent strongly approve and 24 percent somewhat approve, while 3 percent strongly disapprove and 9 percent somewhat disapprove.

 

Methodology

Written questionnaires were administered to 972 undergraduates March 14–16 in the lobby of J. Walter Wilson and the Stephen Robert ’62 Campus Center during the day and the Sciences Library at night. The poll has a 2.8 percent margin of error with 95 percent confidence. The margin of error is 4.4 percent for the subset of males, 3.8 percent for females, 12.9 percent for transfer students, 3.0 percent for non-transfers, 6.1 percent for seniors, 3.4 percent for non-seniors, 5.6 percent for first-year students and 3.4 percent for non-first-years.

The sample polled was demographically similar to the Brown undergraduate population as a whole. The sample was 44.3 percent male and 55.7 percent female. First-years made up 26.6 percent of the sample, 26.2 percent were sophom
ores, 24.1 percent were juniors and 23.1 percent were seniors. Of those polled, 5.2 percent of respondents identified themselves as being transfer students. Statistical significance was established at the 0.05 level.

Senior Editor Julien Ouellet ’12, News Editors Alex Bell ’13 and Nicole Boucher ’13 and Senior Staff Writers Greg Jordan-Detamore ’14 and Lindor Qunaj ’13 coordinated the poll. Herald section editors, senior staff writers and other staff members conducted the poll.

Over the next several days, The Herald will publish a series of articles about individual poll questions. Find previous polls’ results at thebdh.org/poll.

A previous version of this article reported the margin of error for the Herald poll was 2.3 percent. In fact, it was 2.9 percent. The corrected margins of error for subsets of students are 4.4 percent for males, 3.8 percent for females, 12.9 percent for transfers, 3.0 percent for non-transfers, 6.1 percent for seniors, 3.4 percent for non-seniors, 5.6 percent for first-years and 3.4 percent for non-first-years. The Herald regrets the error.